May 27, 2011

Governor Cuomo Announces, and Senate Confirms, the New Public Health and Health Planning Council

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced nominations for the newly established Public Health and Health Planning Council (“PHHPC”) early last week.  The members of the former Public Health Council will be joined by twelve new appointees confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday to create the new Council, consisting of a twenty-four member committee plus the Commissioner of Health.

The newly confirmed members are:

  • Arthur Aaron Levin, Director of the Center for Medical Consumers and a member of several patient advocacy groups;
  • Ellen E. Grant, Director of Cornerstone Manor of the Buffalo City Mission (a women’s and children’s shelter), and Managing Partner of First Advantage Consulting;
  • Angel Alfonso Gutierrez, Physician contracting with the Office of Professional Medical Conduct at the New York State Department of Health in Buffalo;
  • John M. Palmer, Executive Director of the Harlem Hospital Center and Renaissance Health Care Network;
  • Victoria Hines, President and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Service of Rochester and Monroe County;
  • Chris Booth, President and COO of Lifetime Healthcare Companies/Excellus Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Rochester;
  • Jeffrey Kraut, Senior Vice President, Strategy at North Shore-LIJ Health System;
  • John Rugge, Founder, CEO, and physician at Hudson Headwaters Health Network in Queensbury;
  • Howard Berliner, Former Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at SUNY Downstate School of Public Health;
  • Ann Marie Theresa Sullivan, Senior Vice President, Queens Health Network;
  • Glenn Martin, Director of Medical Informatics, Queens Health Network and Associate Director of the Program for the Protection of Human Subjects at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine; and
  • Anderson Torres, Director of Health Initiatives, Bon Secours New York Health System Schervier Nursing Care Center, and an adjunct Professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Services, Westchester Campus.

The PHHPC was established in December 2010 in an effort to simplify the health planning functions of the New York State Department of Health.  According to the Department of Health, the PHHPC is meant to “reflect the diversity of the State’s population, including the State’s various geographic areas and population densities.”

In order to do this, the new PHHPC had to meet the stringent membership requirements to include at least two members who are also members of the Mental Health Services Council, four members who are representatives of general hospitals or nursing homes, one member who must chair the Minority Health Council, and one member from each of the following: home care agencies, diagnostic and treatment centers, health care payers, labor and organizations for health care employees, and health care consumer advocacy organizations.  (See McKinney’s Public Health Law § 220.)

The powers and duties of the PHHPC are set forth in Sections 224-b and 225, as well as Articles 28, 36, and 40 of the Public Health Law.  The Council will generally advise the Commissioner of Health regarding the preservation and improvement of public health, and it will need approval from the Commissioner on any actions it takes.

The PHHPC will also become the final decision-maker for the applications of establishment for hospitals, diagnostic and treatment centers, and nursing homes, and will make recommendations on Certificate of Need applications in addition to reviewing the regulations governing such applications.  Further, the PHHPC was bestowed “the power to adopt and amend sanitary regulations,” as well as regulations relating to health care facilities, hospice services, and home care agency public need, establishment, reimbursement, operating standards and structural standards.  Lastly, the PHHPC was given the power to hear complaints by licensed professionals who have their hospital privileges terminated, suspended, or denied.

Each member will serve for six years, although the statute has staggered the transition of the inaugural class with shorter terms.  The position is uncompensated.

This post was contributed by Nancy Sciocchetti.